Christmas is fast approaching. Some families will want to make changes to their parenting plans and other families will want to change arrangements from last year. Don’t delay – you don’t want to be the parent who wishes that they spoke up sooner to ensure that you get the time that you would like with your child this Christmas period.
Why Orders? Orders are parenting plans that are lodged at court and made binding. Orders are the ideal way to ensure that there is structure, routine and certainty around your time with your children. It is easier to plan your time and the busy Christmas period when you and the other parent are on the same page with care arrangements.
What if you have a plan and not Orders? The biggest difference between a Plan and Orders is that one is an agreement and one is binding. Orders are legally binding and should there be a breach, there are opportunity for recourse. If you and the other parent want to make your plan binding, you can lodge your parenting plan as consent orders.
Time for reflection. Now is the time to assess, act and make any necessary changes to your parenting orders (or if you don’t have any, create some orders pronto!) November is the perfect time to reflect on your parenting plan or orders and assess:
- What worked well last year or in previous years?
- What would you like to change for the year ahead?
- What do the children need or want over the Christmas break?
Your choice: This Christmas, you can either choose to:
- Stick to your existing Orders. Stick to your current parenting arrangement – In some cases the saying “give an inch, they take a mile” may apply and if this is your situation, there is a lot of comfort to staying strictly to the Orders.
- Deviate from the Orders. By agreement, you and the other parent can deviate (or change) the current Orders. Ensure your arrangement is in writing and if you have a joint calendar, update the calendar to reflect the new schedule. Communication and flexibility is encouraged between parents for the benefit of the child and each of the parents.
- Create new Orders. Update your orders to reflect your current circumstances and wishes. It is cheapest to do this by lodging consent orders with the other parent.
Start the conversation. By opening the lines of communication with your child’s other parent, you are more likely to make the Christmas period more enjoyable for everyone – both parents and your child.
The benefits to you. There are many benefits to having an agreement for how you spend your time with your child over the Christmas period – regardless of whether your parenting arrangements are being altered by agreement, updated at court or sticking to the status quo. With an understanding of the time that you have over the summer holidays and Christmas period, you can:
- Plan your child-free time as well as plan for the time that you have with your child
- Be in a better position to combat loneliness by having a plan for your child-free time
- Be better able to minimise any potential conflict with your child’s other parent
Too often, anything associated with parenting and/or Christmas can be emotion charged. By starting your conversation about how you would like to share your child with the other parent over the Christmas period sooner rather than later can only benefit every person involved – and you can remain calmer, plan appropriately knowing the time that you have to yourself and with your child and focus on making memories.